A “codicil” is an amendment to a will and they have been used for generations and generations. They are common place. Why are they still used? Because they’ve “always” been used, and what kind of reason is that?
When wills were hand-drafted 25 page documents, codicils made sense. When wills were hand-typed, codicils made sense. In today’s word of word processing, codicils often don’t make sense.
If you would like to make a change to your will, by all means, do so. Common changes would include:
- A change in the distribution of your assets,
- Naming someone new as guardian of your minor children, and
- Selecting a different executor to wind down your estate
Typically these are small changes that don’t affect the other provisions of your will so you may think that a codicil makes sense. However, it may not.
The law is constantly changing. Your estate planning attorney incorporates these changes in her documents on a regular basis. A codicil won’t catch these changes.
In addition, your estate planning attorney is constantly learning to practice more effectively. She also incorporates these related updates into her estate planning documents.
Plus, if your will was written and executed under the supervision of another attorney, your estate planning attorney doesn’t know that it was executed validly. It would be unwise for your attorney to take on the liability of putting an “okay” stamp on your will under these circumstances.
In addition, most attorneys won’t agree to okay another attorney’s documents because of the liability. But even if your attorney would, it is likely to cost you more because it will take her longer to read, review, and analyze someone else’s documents than to start from scratch with her own.
Updating with a codicil is likely short sighted and not recommended.